International Ministries

Disneyland and Religious Rights

April 18, 2010 Journal
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How did Disney remind us of the importance of mission? We are thankful for an unexpected, yet wonderful day in Disneyland last week. We thought that steep price hikes, and our economic situation would prevent us from going to Norita's favorite place this year. It turned out different, thanks to long time friends, who invited us there for a splendid day.

We enjoyed many shows, and attractions including the classic ‘Its a small world after all’; While the little boat cruised the continents, I noticed happy dancing figures with happy smiley-face voodoo-kind-masks in the Polynesian section. This brought back memories of my mid-80s mission trips and research in Africa, and the study focus at Bible college and Seminary. I became aware that, what modern anthropology often portrays as happy peaceful primitive habits in cultures, are in reality rather enslaved, manipulative and severe fear driven interactions with the occult. There is no happiness but control and fear reflection behind the real-world-masks; I would not have given it further thoughts, if the final station we cruised was not filled with images of heaven.

Unlike the ‘Small World’ darkened halls before, the last hall was shiny white and brightly lightened, with sparkling silver and gold glittering everywhere. There were the figures of all cultures just seen before, but now in white shiny robes. It included the Polynesians, and many Europeans, as if they all end up in heaven?!! As if manipulative power clashes with the occult or atheistic indulgence and self-rule lead to ‘fulfillment in God's presence’, making evangelism and mission obsolete! Of course not! However, with true repentance, new life in Jesus IS FOR ALL peoples indeed, no matter what ethnicity. We will meet all those in heaven, who converted to welcoming God's presence through Jesus in their lives, what a wonderful day that will be indeed, and what great task we have to reach out for Christ now. 

How shall they come to Christ if they do not hear, how if no one tells them, if no one is sent? With that scripture from Romans 10 a two day mission encounter started where we were speaking the following days. We invited volunteers to come to Europe, to help people to COME to Christ, to GROW in Christ and to CHANGE the world for Christ. After one of the sessions a young man came up to us, sharing that he felt compelled to study law, but shouldn’t he become a pastor? We advised him to ask Gods guidance, because God wants his people to serve Him in many occupations, including law. 

We had lawyers as volunteers in Europe, but we have not had volunteer lawyers practicing law yet. That night, I checked the Forum18 web-site about religious rights, that I gave the young man earlier. It had just listed a church, where we preached, and that we show in our presentation, it reported this church was visited 4 times by police last month. The secular Muslim and former Soviet state declared the Baptist church illegal (as in communist days). In recent years it imprisoned different Baptist pastors and gave high fines to believers. Through involvement of foreign lawyers, religious rights groups, the European Baptist Federation (EBF), and a letter from Jimmy Carter, one of the pastors had been released from prison recently. There is a place and ministry for lawyers, in God's kingdom. Paul defended himself in court, where the Gospel was at stake. And we ask for your prayers for the churches in those former Soviet states beyond Europe, that still belong to our EBF region.